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Immigration and immigrant problems are not new phenomena in our contemporary world. Statistically, one out of every five children in United States below the age of eighteen years is either an immigrant child or a child of immigrant parents. Immigration has been a disease that has been eating the globe slowly over a long period. According to statistics, many people who migrate from one country to another travel in search of greener pastures. In most cases, parents are the ones who travel living their children behind since they cannot be able to earn and at the same time, take care of their children. In this case, they live their children behind without the knowledge of how they suffer. An excellent example is the case of ‘Enrique’s Journey’ where he had to endure suffering before successfully migrating to the United States.

‘Enrique’s Journey’ is a story written by Sona Nazario. It was first published in 2006. In this story, Sonia narrates how a seventeen-year-old boy from Honduras made a harrowing journey from his hometown Tegucigalpa all the way to the United States of America. All this was in an attempt to meet his mother who had left Honduras when he was only five years old (Nazario 24). The poverty and suffering in Honduras made her mother, Lourdes, to move to United States in search of a greener pasture to improve the living conditions of her family.

 Enrique’s mother went to United States hoping to get money and send back some to his children. She made a promise to her son that she will send money back home. Moreover, she will invite Enrique to come and stay with her once she was settled. In the process, she failed to send money home due to the hardships she had to endure in America. No matter how hard she tried to earn, all was in vain. The life in America was harder than she had anticipated. For this reason, she constantly failed to deliver her promises to Enrique.

Consumed with the longing to see his mother, Enrique decides to make the dangerous journey to United States to search for his mother (Nazario 91). This is because of the disappointing and harsh life Enrique passes through in the hands of his relatives. For this reason, Enrique believes that only his mother would fully support and understand him. When he set out for his journey the only thing Enrique has is a paper with her mother’s phone number written on it. Enrique’s journey to the United States was a difficult one. Throughout the journey, he faces tough situations.

Furthermore, in the course of the journey Enrique faced threats of gang attacks. There was neither food nor shelter for Enrique. As the migrants hop from train to train in order to evade corrupt police, there was a danger of one breaking his or her limbs. Gangsters occupied the top of trains and they controlled them as they wished. Migrants were also robbed and killed by bandits along the tracks. The police along the route were also corrupt and would fleece and deport the migrants. However, during this journey Enrique was not alone. He met other migrants most of them being boys with similar experiences (Nazario 162). Therefore, this paper analyses the life children in Honduras go through when they are left behind by their parents using the story ‘Enrique’s Journey’ by Sonia Nazario.

Based on the story ‘Enrique’s Journey’ it is clear that children who are left in Honduras by their parents are left in deteriorating conditions. What life looks like for the children left behind in Honduras Sonia Nazario’s ‘Enrique’s Journey’ depicts the real side of immigration, which is unknown to the American. Nazario brings a truly heartfelt human side to the plight of these immigrants. Nazario provides readers a profound understanding of these immigrants and the dangerous journey they face in order to give their families a chance for a better existence.

A significant number of these children live in conditions that deprive them of their civil, political, social, cultural, and economic rights as spelt out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Children (U.S Department of State 2012). Typically, a Honduran child does not enjoy some of the rights meant to safeguard their survival, growth and development, as well as their protection from abuse, exploitation, and discrimination. These children do not enjoy family life, a situation that results in difficult social and cultural situations.

The challenges that Honduran children face begin at birth. Majority of these children are unregistered at birth. For this reason, when they grow up, they are unaccounted for by the government. This is a violation of Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of Children. The violation prompts several other challenges that make life difficult for these children. The lack of official identity makes most of these children have difficulty in accessing vital services as well as opportunities available for a child growing up in a well-to-do family.

The second problem is brought by relatives who are left to take care of these children. The relatives mistreat these children and use them as house helps. In this case, the children do not have an opportunity to attend schools to attain basic education. They become affected emotionally making them to run away and look for their parents. When they are on the run, they encounter many dangers before they successfully migrate to the United States. This has been proven by the story ‘Enrique’s Journey’, where children left behind by there parents suffer a lot.

Thirdly, the environment of Honduras is in a deteriorating state. The police officers are extremely corrupt. The people who are able to pass the police and gain protection are the rich. In this case, children who have been left by their parents find it extremely difficult for them to escape the police. They are arrested and deported to their hometowns immediately they try to migrate to the United States. These harsh conditions of corrupt police officers make it intolerable for the children to survive the streets.

Fourth, the streets and trains these children use to migrate to the United States are filled with criminal gangs. For those people who do not have money they are beaten or killed. In this case, those children who do not have money are at risk of being killed or joining these gangs in order to survive. The most surprising thing is that the police officers do not do anything. Instead, they are given money by the gangs to look the opposite way (Schultz and Schultz 67). At the hands of the gangs, these children are exploited as they endeavor to make ends meet. They go through forced labor while others go through sexual exploitation (Gonzales 2012).

 Many of the left behind children in Honduras lack clean and safe drinking water. As such, children suffer frequently from such communicable diseases as typhoid. Their problems are consequently aggravated by the lack of opportunity to access proper medical attention. These children also bore the blunt of the Honduran electricity crisis. Inadequate lighting increases the chances of these children spending the night in filthy places where they could acquire fungal infections (Gonzales 2012).

In order to establish what the government and other humanitarian organization need to do, it is important to establish what is currently being done to avert the situation. First, the government is making progress towards reformation of the health sector (U.S Department of State 2012). The United States government together with other authorities is trying to ensure that children who are left behind are able to access proper medical attention. However, the quality of health care being availed to children, especially those that have been left behind, is still below recommended standards. Moreover, many of these children suffer from chronic malnutrition. As a result, they continue to experience health challenges and poor housing even after the government has initiated several ambitious programs meant to alleviate the problem.

The challenges have been aggravated by the recent global economic meltdown. Despite the United States government trying to employ people to help avert the situation, global financial crisis have attacked many companies. Honduras, being close to the United States, has suffered greatly as a significant number of the American companies have become bankrupt. As a result, people are becoming unemployed making it difficult for parents to send money back to their families. This development, coupled with the fact that Honduras is among the poorest nations in the Western hemisphere, has prompted untold suffering to a significant number of neglected children.

 Moreover, with the world still suffering from an economic meltdown, remittances from the parents who live in America and other places have drastically reduced, and this reduction is expected to remain until the crisis is over. Nevertheless, various stakeholders appreciate the need to alleviate the challenges that these children face to save Honduras from social difficulties in the future. In this case, remarkable progress is being made in Honduras (Gonzales 2012).                       

Some countries and organizations are helping children left behind in Honduras. It should not be forgotten that children left behind cross over the border to search for their parents and better lives. An excellent example of an organization helping children left behind is the United Nations children’s fund. These funds are on the forefront trying to help children who have survived the migration journey have a better life. The UNICEF has funded programs that aim at rehabilitating ex gang children members in Honduras (Gonzales 2012). This is because one of the reasons of influx children in United States of America is forceful recruitment of Honduras children in gangs.

The UNICEF regional director for the Caribbean and Latin America, Bernt Aasen, held a meeting in May 2011 with the youths in Honduras to hear their concerns. The meeting held in ComayaguelaCommunity Center was meant to bring to light problems faced by youths as well as the solutions (Gonzales 2012). After the meeting, it emerged that the major problems affecting youths in Honduras were lack of quality education due to constant teacher’s strikes. It was also apparent that eighty percent of the youths in Honduras are not able to access secondary education (Gonzales 2012). Furthermore, it was identified that the country has poor security system and this makes it impossible for children to go to schools for fear of being robbed. The women were mostly affected by insecurity because they are abused and sexually. The views presented during this meeting were important because they were to help UNICEF formulate policies that will prevent migration of the youth to countries like United States of America (Gonzales 2012).

Apart from organizations like United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), other nations are trying to help children left behind by parents improve their living conditions for example, U.S. America experiences a great influx of unaccompanied children every year. The American citizens have a negative attitude towards the immigrants. However, the government has improved policies concerning unaccompanied children in the United States. The country has developed a temporary home for unescorted children near San Antonio (US department of State 2012).

United States has also developed a department called Unaccompanied Children Service Division to look into the issues of unescorted children. The department currently provides temporary housing to unescorted children. The children have been spread in ten states and it is the US government providing health care for these children. Additionally the United States government reunites the unescorted children with their families. Moreover, in 2008, the former American President George Bush signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, making it a law. This law sought to protect migrant children who are mainly vulnerable to trafficking. The United States accepted that the best interests of the child standard apply to unaccompanied children in detention (US department of State 2012).

Therefore, based on the above analysis of action being taken by the governments and humanitarian organizations, it can be clearly seen that the problem is still far from being solved. To begin with, health facilities need to be improved for these children. These children do not have money to access proper health care. For this reason, the American and Honduran governments need to join forces to upgrade health facilities for the children. In this case, children left behind will be able to survive from fatal health conditions they may be suffering from.

Secondly, insecurity has been on the rise. It can be seen that provision of security to the children left behind in Honduras is extremely difficult. The culture of corruption by the police officer in Honduras has become a thorn in the flesh. This has aggravated insecurity in the streets making it difficult for the children left behind to survive (Brockett 73). For this reason, relevant authorities including the Honduran government should try to avert the situation instantly. In this case, the children will be able to survive on the streets without having to join criminal gangs.

Education is another key element where these children need help. These children do not have a chance in joining schools for basic education. In this case, the government should create free primary and secondary education for those children left behind. As a result, these children will be able to make something with their lives with the small education provided for them. According to statistics by the UN, those nations that have provided education for the young generation are likely to have an increase in the economy. Therefore, provision of education should be among the first strategies to solve this issue in Honduras (Gonzales 2012).

In addition, there are no laws put in place by the government to protect children from being mistreated by relatives. According to the story ‘Enrique’s Journey,’ Enrique decided to endure the dangerous journey towards America because he could not take anymore torture from his relatives. This shows that if Enrique was treated well, he could not have decided to run away rather than staying at home. For this reason, the government should create laws to protect children left behind from being mistreated.

Finally, Honduras and other authorities should create an environment where the children do not have to migrate to other countries. In this case, laws and policies should be set. It can be noted that if the above strategies are put in place by the authorities there will be no need for children left behind to migrate to other countries. However, the government and other authorities are forgetting to implement the economic strategies (Germano 2012). If Honduras is able to maintain their citizens, then chances of migrating to another country will be greatly reduced. For this reason, there will be no children left behind by parents who have migrated to another country.

Conclusion

In this paper, an extensive discussion of ‘Enrique’s Journey’ has been done. Through this story and other relevant examples, it has been realized that those children who are left behind go through a traumatic experience in Honduras. The children suffer and some decide to follow their parents in those countries. From this analysis, it can be noted that children do not move to other countries for adventure but because of the problems they face in their mother countries. In this case, they search for a country that has better living condition as compared to their mother countries. The research proves that among issues these children suffer from, insecurity is the leading problem. There are no law enforcers to help them in compromising situation, and the rate of criminal gangs has significantly increased. Finally, it can be seen that the government of United States and UN have joined forces to avert the situation a save a generation at risk of being wiped out.

Important reforms have happened in the United States concerning unaccompanied children. This includes changes such as transfer of unescorted children to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In this department, the children receive care and custody under child welfare experts. In addition, these children receive medical attention to prevent them from succumbing to the disease. However, this is not enough. A lot needs to be done to improve the conditions for these children. Similar circumstances are experienced by children who are left behind but do not migrate following their parents.

Under the prevailing United States laws for example, unaccompanied children are not assured of lawyers to defend them in deportation and asylum cases. Despite the fact that some lawyers have given themselves to defending this unescorted children. An estimated number of almost half of all such children never received representation from lawyers. The general observation of the society and United States in particular, is that they hate immigrant even children. Likewise, the children who remain behind suffer lack of even the necessary needs. Immigrants everywhere have been dehumanized and demonized in any country or society. This notion has to change if the unaccompanied children have to be helped. Two wrongs do not make a right (US department of State 2012). The countries who discriminate these children should understand that circumstances have made them to migrate not adventure. Therefore, they should be human and help them settle.

Studies of children fleeing Honduras have proved that children flee that country because of specific reasons. Parents not returning home to see their children and gang recruitment have been proved the major causes of children fleeing Honduras. Secondly, mistreatment by relatives is another contributing factor causing children to migrate to other countries. It is therefore time for societies everywhere in the world to put an end to detention of immigrant children and take into consideration the best interest for these children. The children who remain behind should be taken care of by the government and the society in general. In this case, living conditions for these children will instantly averted saving an innocent generation in Honduras.


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